One of my most favourite books of last year – 2017 – has been reborn today in paperback form! And just look at that stunning cover!!! I’m sure I can find room to squeeze this edition onto my already overcrowded shelves to join its’ equally gorgeous hardback sibling!
‘A masterful exploration of love, loss and the healing power of the natural world. Heartbreaking and uplifting in equal measure’ Observer
LONGLISTED FOR THE AUTHORS’ CLUB BEST FIRST NOVEL AWARD 2018
After the sudden death of his wife, Audrey, Jonah sits on a bench in Kew Gardens, trying to reassemble the shattered pieces of his life.
Chloe, shaven-headed and abrasive, finds solace in the origami she meticulously folds. But when she meets Jonah, her carefully constructed defences threaten to fall.
Milly, a child quick to laugh, freely roams Kew, finding beauty everywhere she goes. But where is her mother and where does she go when the gardens are closed?
Harry’s purpose is to save plants from extinction. Quiet and enigmatic, he longs for something – or someone – who will root him more firmly to the earth.
Audrey links these strangers together. As the mystery of her death unravels, the characters journey through the seasons to learn that stories, like paper, can be refolded and reformed. Haunted by songs and origami birds, this novel is a love letter to a garden and a hymn to lost things.
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“A masterful exploration of love, loss and the healing power of the natural world. Like Max Porter’s Grief is a Thing With Feathers, it uses fable, mystery and a poetic sensibility to get at the nub of loss … Heartbreaking and uplifting in equal measure” – Observer
“Kew Gardens proves an abundant and richly suggestive backdrop for this unusual story … Udall weaves a complex story about the mysterious ways a life can linger, like a scent, and how grief and love can sometimes feel so vast and overwhelming that no earthly landscape can contain them” – Daily Mail
“A rich and intricate debut, at once subtle and powerful, intent and reflective, lyrical and visceral, expertly cultivating an abundance of life from all that remains after death” – James Hannah, author of ‘The A to Z of You and Me’,
“A moving story as intricate and elegant as the origami birds that Chloe, one of the characters, folds. I loved this whimsical debut novel” – Red, Summer Reads
“Unputdownable fiction … Poetic and finely wrought” – Sunday Express
“A story of death and its aftermath, which lingers long after the last page” – Independent
“An extraordinary, enchanting book. Writing as fine and precise as a botanical sketch, gorgeously arty themes, powerful yet fragile imagery and a brilliant story – this is a book to love and treasure” – Tracy Rees, author of ‘Amy Snow’,
“This novel is all about seeing a ‘scarred loveliness‘ in a damaged world” – Psychologies
“A poetic exploration of those most difficult of topics, grief and love, against the backdrop of Kew Gardens … Udall deftly leads the reader through the tangled web of relationships binding each of these four people to Audrey, whose own story comes to be revealed through her diaries” – Scotsman
“Magical, memorable and one I will treasure” – Ali Land, author of ‘Good Me Bad Me’,
“A delicate and beautiful unfolding of grief, loss, love and the way that lives intersect. Insightful and inventive” – Ann Morgan, author of ‘Beside Myself’,
“Absolutely wonderful. It has the emotional integrity of One Day and the complexity and character depth of Cloud Atlas … An incredible achievement” – Deborah Install, author of ‘A Robot in the Garden’,
After studying theatre and film, Tor co-founded a dance-theatre company and spent most of her twenties directing, writing and performing. She taught drama for several years and choreographed an opera for The Royal College of Music. A Thousand Paper Birds is her first novel. She lives in London with her husband and two young children.
Wow!! Reading this book has been an unforgettable experience and one that is going to stay with me for quite sometime! Not sure I can do it any justice with a review but I’ll try and put how I’m feeling into words – it won’t be as beautiful as this book that is for sure. I think I may be a little in love with this book – and I knew it would be ‘for me’ when i first saw the cover! Absolutely stunning!!
This is the story of Audrey and her sudden, tragic death. Her death that doesn’t make any sense to Jonah, her husband who she has left behind. But they shared a love for Kew Gardens and this landmark keeps them close together as Jonah tries to make sense of the world he’s now living in without his wife. He retraces his steps, his words, his actions but none of this brings her back. And the author captures this grief in amazing detail and in such beautiful language that your heart just breaks with each description of the void.
As the book is centred around Kew so much it allows other characters who visit the gardens and are connected to Audrey and Jonah to be introduced to the reader, and each character is another piece of the jigsaw that runs throughout the book. There is Chloe who is an artist, and is haunted by an incident she witnesses at the park, Harry who is an obsessive Kew gardener and Milly a young girl who is often found at the garden but what is she looking for? Their paths all cross in one way or another and this is a fascinating aspect of the story.
It cleverly also introduces pages from Audreys’ diary so we get to see her story, much of which Jonah was unaware of and this wonderfully adds depth to the story and lets you see life through the eyes of a lost loved one. The heartache she was hiding from him and the secrets she kept from him……
It is quite difficult to review this book too much without spoiling major parts of the book and would highly recommend picking it up to read without knowing too much about the story, as that is how I fell into the book so was unaware of the journey I was about to embark on.
It’s a tale of love, loss, betrayal, hope, grief, lost souls, holding on and letting go and is definitely a reading experience not to be rushed.
One of my favourite books of the year so far!! A must read!!